Books

Ami McKay’s book tour diary: On the road again…

Writing a novel is largely a solitary effort. Months of putting pen to paper (and fingertips to the keyboard) go by, and in the midst of building a world out of words, you forget what’s to come after you type “The End.”

FancyCar

Me, Mom and Dad in my big brothers’ first car.

Ami McKay started an extensive cross-Canada tour* last week and will be filling us in on her adventures on the road in weekly blog postings. Here, her first entry. (*For stops on Ami’s tour, click here.)

Writing a novel is largely a solitary effort. Months of putting pen to paper (and fingertips to the keyboard) go by, and in the midst of building a world out of words, you forget what’s to come after you type “The End.”

When I turned the manuscript for The Virgin Cure over to my publisher I felt a flood of emotions. Relief was soon followed by anxiety and then by a bout of sadness. I find it incredibly hard to leave my favourite characters behind.

As of last week, the book is out in Canada waiting for readers to discover it. I started my book tour filled with excitement (and, truth be told, a bit of nervousness as well). My first readings with this new novel feel kind of like a first date. I find myself wondering, “What will I say?” “What will I wear?”

A reading in Halifax on a rainy evening brought out a crowd of well-wishers with faces both familiar and new. At the end of a lively Q&A session, an elderly gentleman stood up and said he’d like to make an announcement. He explained to both me and the audience that he was a relation of a Dutch travel writer who had visited me a few years ago at my house in Nova Scotia. The writer had since written a book about his trip and there was a chapter in it that included three pages about yours truly. The gentleman had come to tell me that he would like to translate the passages for me.

“What a kind gesture,” I said. “That would be lovely.”

As I began to step away from the podium he said he had one more thing to add. “Could you not take so long before finishing your next book?” he asked with a cheeky smile on his face. “I want to be sure I’m around to read it.” 

“I’ll do my best,” I answered, my heart melting. (He had no idea what a gift he’d just given me. Someone waiting for whatever you write next…that’s what this writer’s dreams are made of.)

A quick trip to Toronto for a Read for the Cure event with Carol Off, Jann Arden and Terry Fallis brought moments of laughter and joy. It was an honour to speak with them at the Arcadian Court in a room filled with over 400 people who had come there to show their support for cancer research. The evening was an emotional one for me, since I’ve lost both of my parents to cancer.

The Read for the Cure organization was started a few years ago by a small group of women, friends who liked to read and whose lives had all been touched by cancer in one way or another. They wanted to make a difference. They now hold events in cities across the country, raising thousands of dollars for their cause. Meeting these fabulous ladies reminded me that, just like a story, all change begins with an idea. It quietly tugs at your heart until you find the courage to take the first steps to make something happen.

Ami